Corporation Silent on Faculty Health Plans Vote

The Harvard Corporation has yet to discuss a unanimous vote made Tuesday by members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences requesting that it reverse changes to the health plans Harvard offers to non-union employees, according to Corporation member James T. Rothenberg ’68.

Rothenberg said that he was not sure when he and the other fellows would discuss the Faculty’s request.

"I cannot make any comment until the Corporation has a chance to discuss the request," he wrote in an email Wednesday.

Other members of the Corporation did not respond to requests for comment, were unavailable, or declined to comment. Senior Fellow William F. Lee ’72 and Karen Gordon Mills deferred response to Harvard Public Affairs and Communications, where University spokesperson Jeff Neal said Thursday that there were no updates to be reported from University President Drew G. Faust or the Corporation.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Faust told a reporter that she would be “replying in due course” to the Faculty vote. The vote—a rare maneuver by the Faculty—carries only symbolic weight.

Meanwhile, the open enrollment period for the health plans in question rolled out Wednesday at 8 a.m. as scheduled.

Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences Michael D. Smith, who had yet to comment on the vote publicly, wrote a statement to The Crimson on the matter Thursday but did not speak of any further action.  

“I fully supported the Faculty Council Docket Committee in providing the FAS Faculty with an opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns on the benefits changes with the president, provost, and leaders of the University Benefits Committee. Discussion and debate are hallmarks of the Harvard community–it is important that they always be open, honest, and respectful,” Smith wrote.

The motion that prompted Tuesday’s vote was initiated by History professor Mary D. Lewis, who confirmed in an email Thursday that the Corporation has not contacted her regarding the motion. It asked “that the President and Fellows replace the new benefits plan with an appropriately adjusted version of the 2014 health benefit package, maintaining the 2014 plan design.”

Faculty members have primarily criticized the new plan, which was announced early September, for its  introduction of  copays and deductibles for non-routine health appointments. Employees will be liable to pay up to $1,500 a person and up to $4,500 a year for families of three or more out of pocket to cover copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and drug costs.

—Staff Writers Matthew Q. Clarida and Noah J. Delwiche contributed to the reporting of this story.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at meg.bernhard@thecrimson.com. Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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